SNAIL FEVER OUTBREAK IN NON-ENDEMIC LEYTE AREA ALARMS DOH
TACLOBAN CITY -- Concerns have been raised over the schistosomiasis outbreak in Baybay City, an area not known as endemic of this chronic parasitic disease.
Roderick Boyd Cerro, Department of Health (DOH) regional chief of epidemiology and surveillance unit, said the outbreak in three villages in Baybay City caught them by surprise since Baybay has no single case of snail fever in the past decade.
“The city health office said Baybay is not known to be an endemic area for schistosomiasis, and they could not recall any reported cases in the last 10 years in the city,” Cerro said in an interview Monday.
Cerro attributed the outbreak to the frequent travel of people from the city's farming villages to other endemic areas in Leyte.
Transmission occurs when people suffering from schistosomiasis contaminate freshwater sources with their feces containing parasite eggs, which hatch in the water.
Victims experience headache, weakness, abdominal pain, fever, cough, diarrhea, itchy rash, and bloody stools. Several of them were confined at the Schistosomiasis hospital in Palo, Leyte.
Since November until early December, at least 57 cases have been reported in Villa Solidaridad, Mailhi, and Monteverde villages in Baybay, with an attack rate of 22 percent for every 100 population.
Schistosomiasis is endemic in 25 areas in Leyte province. These are Abuyog, Alangalang, Babatngon, Barugo, Burauen, Carigara, Dagami, Dulag, Jaro, Javier, Julita, La Paz, Macarthur, Mayorga, Matag-ob, Palo, Pastrana, San Miguel, Sta. Fe, Tabontabon, Tacloban City, Tanauan, Tolosa, Tunga, and Villaba.
In the national listings, four of the region’s six provinces –Leyte, Northern Samar, Samar, Eastern Samar– are categorized as high endemic areas.
Of the 878,777 exposed populations, 338,842 are in Leyte; 113,175 in Samar; 206,043 in Eastern Samar; and 220,717 in Northern Samar.
The health department has no available data on the number of persons infected with schistosomiasis, but they claimed there have been deaths due to the disease every year.
The first epidemic of schistosomiasis in the region occurred among Americans and allied forces after landing in Leyte during World War II in 1944.
The disease is also known as snail fever as people become infected when larval forms of the parasite released by freshwater snails penetrate the skin during contact with infested water. (PNA)
Photo from Digital Journal